“Yesterday was the most horrific day in the city of Orlando,” Mayor Buddy Dyer said opening Monday’s FBI press conference on the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. “Yet I stand here prouder than our city than ever,” he explained, noting that hundreds of lives were saved throughout the course of the night because of the heroic efforts of law enforcement agencies, police, and citizens.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina explained that the decision to begin a rescue operation with an explosive breach was made because “further loss of life was imminent.” An extra duty officer had been working security at Pulse Saturday evening and did engage in a gun battle with shooter Omar Mateen. Additional officers soon responded and engaged in another gun battle with him, forcing him to stop shooting and retreat to the bathroom where Mina said they believe he had several hostages.
“At that time we were able to rescue dozens and dozens of people,” he explained, noting that the situation had stabilized a bit, allowing SWAT to come in and giving them time to set up for the explosive breach, which ended up only working partially. An armored vehicle then had to be used to punch a hole in the wall, through which dozens of people trapped inside were rescued. It was also through this hole that Mateen came out armed with a long gun and engaged in another gun battle with officers, during which he was ultimately killed, Mina said.
As of Monday morning, 48 of the 49 victims have been identified (the shooter’s death brought the death count to 50, FBI Special Agent in Charge Paul Wysopal explained, but he is not included in the victim count). Twenty-four of the next of kin have been notified, and Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent in Charge Danny Banks said that the primary mission now was to notify the remaining family members.
U.S. Attorney Lee Bentley said there is an investigation of other persons and they are in the process of determining if anyone else was involved. But he reassured the community, saying, “we have no reason to believe that anyone connected to this crime is placing the public in imminent danger at this time.”